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Empty home offered at ‘attractive price’ as council bids to tackle housing shortage

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 October 2018

Neil MacDonald (right) with Private Sector Housing Officer Danny Newman at a house in Upton Close which is being brought back into use Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Neil MacDonald (right) with Private Sector Housing Officer Danny Newman at a house in Upton Close which is being brought back into use Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

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Ipswich council is stepping up the battle against empty homes in the town in a bid to bring more back into use and ease the housing crisis.

The house in Upton Close had been empty for many years and a tree had grown up in front of the car left in the car port Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILThe house in Upton Close had been empty for many years and a tree had grown up in front of the car left in the car port Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

One of the latest to be taken over by the borough is a semi-detached house in Upton Close which has been empty for many years.

It has now been compulsorily purchased by the council – and it will be sold to someone prepared to restore it and make it a much-loved home again.

This is Empty Homes Week and the council is using this to highlight its priority of returning more homes into use.

An empty property can increase crime and anti-social behaviour, squatters and fly-tipping. And that isn’t good for neighbours, whether they are tenants or homeowners.

But owners of empty homes can lose out financially, with council tax bills of 150%, increased maintenance costs and insurance and a loss in potential rental income.

The council’s housing portfolio-holder, councillor Neil MacDonald, said: “We want to get more empty homes back into use by talking to owners to find out why homes are empty and by offering advice and support. As a last resort, we will use the powers of compulsory purchase to bring homes back into use.”

Around 100 homes have been brought back into use in the past three years and the council is currently working on a caseload of another 100 at varying stages of progress.

Landlords or owners of empty properties could be eligible for an Empty Homes Renovation Grant of up to £10,000 to bring a property that has been empty for more than a year back into use.

Homes are either restored and offered for rent as a council house, restored and sold to a private buyer, or sold as they are to someone who wants to restore it – possibly as a starter home. That is what is happening to this house in Upton Close.

Mr MacDonald said: “There are council grants of up to £20,000 available to first-time buyers wanting to restore a property to make into their home – it’s a good way of getting on to the housing ladder.

“This particular house needs quite a lot of work to be done to it, but it could come at an attractive price for someone who knows what they are doing and wants to restore it as their home – I hope to see it back in use as someone’s cherished home again within the next few months.”

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